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We Asked The Pros: Is Carpet Really Dead? Why Do Homeowners Love Hard Flooring?

by Jon Nunan

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There are, of course, a few things carpet can offer that hard flooring simply cannot. When it comes to being soft underfoot, concrete and hardwood simply can't compare. For families with small children, the resilient nature of carpet makes the inevitable falls and bumps of toddler hood much easier. Despite these factors, it seems like carpet is still "out", while hard surfaces (particularly hardwood) are decidedly "in". To help us understand this trend, we called up HomeAdvisor contractor Kal Shadid at Floor Coverings International in Nashua, New Hampshire.

So, What's Wrong with Carpet?
When we talked to Kal about what the problem with carpet is in his eyes, instead of denouncing carpet as a product, he preferred to tell us why hard surfaces are more appealing. "People like hard surfaces like hardwood and tile for many reasons," he told us. "First, ceramic tile and hardwood are natural products, while much carpet is derived from petroleum. Another big reason [why people like hard surface flooring] is equity." Obviously, getting a new floor is an investment, and according to Kal, investing in carpet is not nearly as sound as investing in a product like hardwood. "When assessing the value of a home, a hardwood floor is generally worth more than a carpeted floor," Kal told us. From that, it's easy to conclude that not only do hard surfaces appeal to homeowners aesthetically, but financially, too (it is important to note, however, that some hard flooring products are deemed more valuable than others; laminate flooring, for example, is not considered as valuable as the hardwood it is often designed to mimic).

Kal also told us that homeowners might actually see hard flooring as a healthier product because it doesn't hold onto dust and debris the way that carpet does. Carpet is also easier to stain and has a far lower shelf-life. "Carpet will retain its good looks for 5 or 6 years pretty easily; high quality carpet that is well taken care of can even last 10 years or more," Kal told us. "When you install hardwood or tile, you can have a floor that lasts a lifetime.'

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If Price Were Not an Issue, What Kind of Flooring Would You Install in Your Home?
Kal had no problem telling us that hardwood would be his choice if price wasn't a factor. He was very ready to admit, however, that hardwood is initially much more expensive than carpet. "If carpet costs you $30 a square yard, hardwood of a similar quality can cost you double that. It often turns out, though, that spending the money on hardwood ends up being a good investment over time."

Is Carpet Dead?
It seems unlikely. Though there are many reasons why professionals like Kal (as well as homeowners across the country) might prefer hard flooring to carpet, while prices stay low and material stays comfortable, there's no reason to believe that carpet will disappear from the American landscape any time soon. However, according to the pros, a good wood floor and a nice rug might end up being a better choice in the long run.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.